No discussion of software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) is complete without a mention of open source which is quickly becoming the de facto approach to enabling the next-generation of carrier networks. But as carriers spend considerable energy and resources on overhauling their networks to make them more nimble, scalable, flexible and cost effective, they also need to consider what these infrastructure changes will mean to their OSS and BSS systems, which will need to support everything.
Groups like OpenDaylight , whose executive director recently wrote about its efforts in the SDN and NFV space, Open Platform for NFV Project Inc. and CloudNFV have all made open source part of the very foundation for pushing toward virtualized networks and software-defined principles. (See Open Source: The De Facto Standard )
While back office software has evolved with the times, going from extremely proprietary to standardized and from distributed to converged, the new wave of network development may require these systems to transform yet again. To do this, some in the industry are advocating an open source methodology for developing the next generation of OSS and BSS to keep up with the rapid changes happening on the network services side.
At the recent Metro Ethernet Forum GEN14 conference held in Washington, D.C., operators mentioned that BSS/OSS was not moving as fast as the rest of the network. This applies to SDN/NFV network but also to BSS/OSS processes surrounding 4G LTE services. With these new services, and especially those built on SDN and NFV, carriers will be able to very quickly create new services, get them out to customers and hopefully make money from them. But if the supporting systems can’t keep up, carriers will not reap the benefits of these new networks.
“With an increasing demand from customers for ubiquitous services – especially cloud services – across geographies and carriers, we can expect to see service operations as a differentiator, including time to install services and time to restore services,” said Michael Strople, president, Allstream, at the GEN14 event. “That’s where standardization is essential, and it’s not just technical standardization but also standardization for operations, so they can get consistency of experience both when deploying a service and operating a service wherever they want to use that service.”
Right now, there’s no clear definition of what an open source OSS/BSS infrastructure would look like, but there’s a lot of speculation. During the GEN14 event, the group unveiled the “Third Network,” which it describes as Lifecycle Service Orchestration with APIs for existing network, NFV and SDN implementations. This takes the MEF’s Carrier Ethernet 2.0 to the next level by bringing in on-demand service experience, high levels of user network control and pay-per use concepts. (See Thinking Outside the Box and MEF: New Initiatives Tied to Existing Standards Groups)
The APIs within the Third Network could be used by OSS/BSS vendors to create open source software that would enable carriers to turn up SDN/NFV services as quickly as they want. For example, CenturyLink has already taken a huge step towards this new OSS/BSS architecture by essentially replacing its previous system with a solution from Ericsson to lay the groundwork for the SDN/NFV environment the service provider is creating. The service provider is implementing an open API structure to enable faster delivery of new services and features.
With most major carriers jumping on the SDN/NFV bandwagon in an effort to boost revenues and instill customer loyalty, an open source OSS/BSS is a natural piece of the puzzle to get them to market faster without compromising on critical back office functions.
— Anita Karvé, Freelance Contributor, special to The New IP